Toxic Metals and ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Dollar Store Products in Canada

Toxic Metals and ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Dollar Store Products in Canada
The Dollar Tree logo on its store in Bowie, Maryland on Nov. 23, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully

An analysis of some products sold at dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollarama in Canada has been found to contain toxic heavy metals as well as “forever chemicals,” referring to “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances” (PFAs) that tend to stick around in the soil, atmosphere, and rainwater for a long time.

The study, published by Environmental Defence, was done on products purchased from the two stores in Toronto in 2021. Researchers tested microwave popcorn bags from Dollar Tree, food can linings from Dollarama, household items, electronics, toys, and thermal cash register receipts from both the stores for heavy metals, PVC, PFAs, bisphenols, and phthalates.

The analysis found that at least one in four tested products contained toxic chemicals, the organization said in its report. This number was at 30 percent in products from Dollar Tree and 25 percent in items from Dollarama.

All cash register receipts contained bisphenol-S (BPS), an organic compound known to potentially increase the expression of breast cancer carcinogens. BPS has also been linked to impairment in neural function, insulin resistance, and irregular vascular function in children.

All tested food cans were found to contain toxic chemicals, with 60 percent containing BPA and 40 percent having PVC and polyester resin. Exposure to BPA can result in negative health effects on the prostate glands and brains of children, infants, and babies in utero. All tested microwave popcorn packaging contained PFAs.

Children’s Products

Products targeting children were identified as containing high toxic levels of heavy metals in hidden components, which the report notes were not regulated as external components—a loophole that has been exploited by the stores.

For instance, hidden components in earbuds were found to have lead levels 8,000 times the external limit on the metal. In activity trackers, this was 2,600 times the limit.

This lack of regulation for internal lead within children’s products fails to recognize the real use scenario of such items like kids sucking or chewing on the items, which exposes them to toxicity. Dollar stores make use of this gap in regulation to sell items containing high lead levels without breaking any laws, said the report.

“Toxic chemicals have no place in our homes. Children’s products, in particular, should not contain highly toxic heavy metals such as lead,” the report stated. Earlier studies on dollar stores in the U.S. have also shown similar risks.

Dollarama’s Response

In an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, a Dollarama spokesperson said that the report includes “numerous incorrect assumptions.”

“The four Dollarama products identified in the report (stereo headphones, earbuds, a pencil pouch and an activity tracker) all meet applicable Canadian product regulations and are safe to use for their intended purposes. Our cash register receipts, also identified in the report, are BPA free and are safe to handle by our employees and customers.”

One study published this year collected 226 items from seven American states and Ontario, Canada. Items included 22 packages of microwave popcorn, 33 cans of food, 28 store purchase receipts, etc. The study found that 53 percent of tested products had one or more Chemicals of Concern (COC).

Sixty-six percent of items from Five Below, 60 percent from Dollar Tree, 49 percent from Family Dollar, 44 percent from 99 Cents Only, and 38 percent of items from Dollar General that were tested were found to contain COC above the screening level.